Pinocchio

Director: Hamilton Luske & Ben Sharpsteen

1940

I have to say my Pinocchio is not up there with my favourite Disney films though I can see the appeal. I think my view has been marred somewhat by the very tongue in cheek version of Pinocchio in the Shrek films.

I think what makes Disney films in particular so popular, and continuously popular over long periods of time, is not just the wonderful music and breathtaking animation but also the fact that they contain important life lessons. As I said in a previous post Dumbo teaches us that anyone can overcome adversity if they try hard enough, Pinocchio offers similar advice – “Guided (but not always led by his insect ‘conscience’ Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio must learn not just responsibility but also courage and love during his innocently roguish quest for life.” (Joshua Klein, 163, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) With Pinocchio we learn about right and wrong and the consequences that go along with our actions.

The animation is outstanding – especially when you realize it is only Disney’s second feature film – and really showcases what can be achieved. The only limit is your imagination! I find the sequence with the clocks particularly clever and beautiful. I still to this day say “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I make tonight” … something I have carried with me throughout my childhood … every time I see the first star of the night.

Geppetto is a wonderfully charming grandfatherly figure. The toy maker in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968, Ken Hughes) reminds me of Geppetto – he’s the human version if you like. By drawing the Blue Fairy in a softer way the animators create an etherial, other-worldly quality about her – exactly what a fairy needs. Pleasure Island is just downright creepy and yet an excellent visualization of what certain lifestyles will do to you.

Pinocchio (as well as all Disney films really) teaches us that it’s okay to dream and that even the biggest dreams can come true. However dreams won’t just be handed to us – there are conditions and we have to work for them but they are always ultimately worth it. Pinocchio may give into temptation but when it really comes down to it he shows real courage when he goes to the rescue of Geppetto without any thought to his own safety.

Certain elements of Pinocchio have actually transcended the film like a nose growing when you tell a lie. You know a film is a success when elements of it can survive on their own out of context.

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